8 March 2016

Trump isn’t doomsday; an interview with Mark Cunningham


“I don’t think Donald Trump is doomsday,” says Mark Cunningham. “All the Hilter, fascist, authoritarian talk is wildly over the top.” What a relief and a pleasure to interview Cunningham, Editorial Page Editor of the New York Post. You see, unlike just about every other conservative Republican at the moment, Cunningham isn’t freaking out about the possibility Trump may become the Republican Presidential nominee.

“Even if he wanted to do bad stuff, we don’t have a system” that makes that likely, Cunningham explains. “Our system is basically designed to make it hard” to make dramatic changes. And Cunningham has some recent precedent to back him up. “President Obama barely got the Affordable Care Act passed and he had super majorities in both houses of Congress.” If elected, says Cunningham, Trump “has to hire a bunch of staff. The universe he can hire from is going to determine the direction” he takes as president.

Another reason Cunningham isn’t too upset is because he thinks Trump “may be” the best person to run against Hillary Clinton in November. Now this seems fanciful since all the polls at the moment show her trouncing The Donald. Doesn’t that data make Cunningham concerned for GOP prospects? He’s dismissive. “The polls about the general election don’t mean much at this point. Until the two nominees are set, you’re not getting meaningful polls.”

Right now, “Clinton is going to be lucky to match Obama’s 2012 vote totals” which we should remember were much worse for Obama than in 2008 –3.5 million votes worse, in fact. “Black votes are vital for her” to win the nomination, but come November it isn’t “likely to see her get as many Blacks to the polls as Obama did in 2012. She is going to have all the baggage of the Obama years with none of the charisma. She’s a terrible candidate.”

The lack of enthusiasm for Clinton is apparent to Democrats as well. “All of [Clinton’s] experience and credentials are working  against her in this environment, and she is just not inspiring the kind of intense support that that Barack Obama did [in 2008] — or like Trump is doing,” former Democratic strategist Dan Gerstein said.

The GOP candidate still has to get more votes to beat her, however. “Trump plainly is bringing in new voters. The blue-collar base Mitt Romney tried to get and didn’t four year ago are going for Trump. As long as Trump keeps those people, all he has to do is get Republicans to vote against Hillary. That’s an easy pivot,” says Cunningham.

According to Cunningham, “Trump doesn’t have to shift to the left,” as other Republican candidates will have to do, Cruz especially. “He just has to get the base to vote against Hillary.” And there are lots of folks itching to vote against Clinton, even some Democrats, like former rival for the Democratic presidential nomination Jim Webb. As Cunningham puts it, “They may not like him but they really hate her.”

One other element in Trump’s favor come November is that people are already showing up to vote for him who haven’t voted before, whereas Clinton has got to get them to come out for her and hasn’t yet. Democratic strategist David Axelrod says that opposition to Trump will get Clinton the votes she needs. Others draw different conclusions. Bill Maher, a comedian and contrarian liberal said the other day on his TV show Real Time, “if Americans have to choose between a party that won’t even say the phrase ‘Islamic terrorism’ and Donald Trump, especially if there is another attack, they’ll choose Donald Trump.”

Abby W. Schachter is US editor of CapX.